Chapter 9: A Game of Prestige [9]

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

----- THIS TRANSLATION BELONGS TO konila.com -----

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

The Internet of 2008 was nowhere near as advanced as that of the future years. Even with the furor caused by Hope on Site B, along with the groundbreaking display of Patriot One at the National Droid-building Competition, there was hardly any ripple beyond the circle. There was scarcely anyone else who knew what had happened and the implications that the events would set off.

Budding scientists and inventors often emerged with new gimmicks in those days, purporting them with fervent frenzy as innovations that would usher in the future. But further scrutiny would easily puncture through their charade, debunking these gimmicks as mere creations of the past, or simply useless trinkets that carried little to no practical value or function.

Gradually, the authorities’ interest in the innovations of the civilian domain began to wane just as quickly as it waxed.

Qi Wang was clear of that. For this reason, he had immediately contacted his mentor in school once he won the National Droid-building Competition. He compiled an assortment of theses, along with a sample of the power source he had built for Patriot One, the Ark Reactor. He then delivered them to Yang Qingming, his former teacher at Green Oak University.

After twenty-five years, Yang Qingming has become a Fellow of the university and he remains in his post, still dedicated to teaching.

He was amazed and shocked when he received Qi Wang’s package. But with the latter being his most prized student, he could never forget about him. In fact, he was sure that Qi Wang would have had far greater accomplishments than him if he had not skipped school to dive into business.

It has been more than two decades since Qi Wang joined the Qi Group and they had not contacted each other before. Out of nowhere came a parcel from his most prized student from decades ago, leaving Yang Qingming with disbelief but with zero hesitation, he quickly opened it.

Once he saw the contents, Yang Qingming immediately contacted the government. He knew they would be interested in what he saw. He made known to them about the results of Qi Wang’s research and people from the government came, eager to meet Qi Wang.

That was the rise leading to the crescendo of Qi Wang finding himself in a room full of officers armed to the teeth.

Yang Qingming sprang to his feet with excitement when he saw Qi Wang. He strode briskly towards him with open arms and hugged him like a son.

“Good boy, my good boy! How splendid you are! Truly extraordinary indeed!”

Brimming with enthusiastic frenzy, Yang Qingming could barely speak. One read-through of Qi Wang’s theses and his research, with a look at the sample of the Ark Reactor, was enough to illustrate to Yang Qingming the incalculable value that Qi Wang could offer. If only they could put his discovery to good use and expedited it into mass-production, the frontiers of local science and technology could be pushed further beyond imagination.

Twenty years ago when Qi Wang dropped out of school to join the Qi Group, his Master’s Degree program was nearing completion. It seemed like a great shame to Yang Qingming, but he did not dwell long on his prized student’s decision. He respected it and he understood everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes. For this reason, he allowed his best protégé to leave and pursue his destiny with hardly any resistance.

Yet now, after over two decades, Qing Wang reappeared before him, presenting to him a technology that could redefine today’s limits. Yang Qingming regretted his past decision to allow his student to leave.

Twenty years. For twenty years Qi Wang had wasted away his talents and flair. If only he continued studying science. If only he stayed on researching. Heaven knows what other scientific marvels he could have conjured.

“Come, Qi Wang. I present to you Zhang Liang, captain of the Special Security Detachment of the Ministry of State Security.”

Apparently, Yang Qingming had sent everything Qi Wang delivered to him to the Ministry of State Security. Zhang Liang, being their representative, has come to invite Qi Wang to their research center.

Before his arrival, everything about Qi Wang sat in a thick folio on the Minister’s desk. Inside the folio included the building details of Patriot One, which he perused in addition to watching the presentation Qi Wang did during the competition with his advisors. Following a lengthy discussion pertaining to what Qi Wang could offer and the potential implication of Patriot One’s creation, the Ministry decided to send Zhang Liang to meet Qi Wang.

They would have directly went to Qi Wang, but knowing about Qi Wang’s appointment with Yang Qingming, they decided to first visit Yang Qingming’s lab.

The latter had told them that Qi Wang would be bringing Patriot One with him.

Zhang Liang stepped forward and extended a hand to Qi Wang right after Yang Qingming introduced them both. They shook hands while he studied Qi Wang quickly.

Well… Wait a second. Did he not say that he’d be bringing Patriot One with him? But he’s here empty-handed?

Zhang Liang kept it to himself at first, but he summoned enough courage to voice out his doubt.

“Last I heard, you are bringing Patriot One with you today?”

Qi Wang nodded and said, “Yes, I am.”

Zhang Liang’s eyes widened bewilderedly as they involuntarily wandered to Qi Wang’s back. He hoped to find the sleek metallic frame of his droid, only to find nothing. Does Patriot One possess the ability to become invisible too?

Zhang Liang asked this out loud again.

Qi Wang adjusted his spectacles and rummaged his pocket for a model robot – a miniaturized Patriot One the size of a man’s palm.

“This is Patriot One.”

Zhang Liang was speechless.

So was Yang Qingming as well.

Is he mad?! This is just a model of the true article, surely?!

Yang Qingming’s face flushed with myriads of inutterable feelings and emotion. He lurched with wordless silence for seconds before he could finally say, “You jest, Qi Wang. Come on, enough tricks. I’m sure you understand how important things are. Your science has caught the interest of the government and they would like to see Patriot One for themselves. Get it here now.”

 Qi Wang shifted his spectacles again, saying pensively, “But I’m telling the truth: this is Patriot One – one and the same.”

As he spoke, he placed the model droid on the floor. He stood up and tapped on his wrist, and to everyone’s amazement, the model droid which was barely the size of his hand immediately transformed into Patriot One in its full height.

What the hell— What have we just seen?! Is this some cinematic special effect?!

A scene both inconceivable and unthinkable even with today’s standard of science and technology unfolded before every pair of eyes in the lab, shocking them all.

Is this a joke?! Or are we dreaming?! H-how is this possible?!

Then Qi Wang’s voice, like an invisible hand reaching down into their rabbit holes of bewilderment, jerked them back into reality.

“Being a security droid, Patriot One can seem to be unusually inconvenient to have around. Then I discovered nanotechnology that allows the manipulation of a matter’s size and shape. In theory, it means you could shrink something even to molecular size. But I’m afraid this is the smallest I can do for now with the means at my disposal. In fact, restoring it back to its actual size might even cause some degree of damage.”

As if to affirm his point, Patriot One’s hand dislodged and fell to a clatter on the floor before he had even finished.

Qi Wang bent down casually to retrieve the hand.

“Yep, just like this. I’m afraid the technology needs more work. There are kinks that I’m still trying to iron out – the errors that occur during projection and contraction.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the room stared blankly at Qi Wang, hardly understanding a word he said.

They understood little to nothing about research and development, and Qi Wang’s demonstration had left them stupefied. Heavens, what witchery have we just witnessed?! If they had not seen it with their own eyes, they would have thought them all just a load of hoax.

Yang Qingming could feel his entire self trembling after witnessing Qi Wang’s ground-breaking scientific thaumaturgy.

By his demonstration which showed nanotechnology’s resizing of matter, and to say nothing of the technology of Patriot One, Qi Wang had just redefined the limits of science and technology today.

“You must come with me, Qi Wang! To the Ministry now! Immediately!” said Yang Qingming, seizing Qi Wang’s hand and dragging him out.

This is a huge discovery! A miracle worthy of its name!

But Zhang Liang quickly stopped the euphoric Yang Qingming and bade him to relax.

What Qi Wang had just shown them had way exceeded their imaginations and so was his importance. That warranted more men to keep him safe.

Zhang Liang immediately reported his findings to the Ministry and relayed everything he just saw.

The higher echelons of the Ministry began to understand the value of Qi Wang and they dispatched a company of soldiers at once.

The students of Green Oak University hardly looked fazed by the sight of military vehicles rumbling into the campus grounds.

Green Oak was Huapatria’s greatest university, producing one or two prodigies with annual regularity that the government would swoop down to recruit with deadly efficacy. Hence, students and staff of the university have become benumbed by the sight of military vehicles moving up the driveway of the campus.

For all they knew, the university must have produced another new wunderkind who has attracted the interest of the government again.

The appearance of the military convoy had only managed to rouse just some minor discussions and gossip before everyone returned back to their usual banal life of school and work.

Qi Wang and Yang Qingming were first brought to the Ministry of State Security and were introduced to many of the R&D staff there. It was there where he too, with all candor and openness, showed them the results of his research on Patriot One and nanotechnology.

To Qi Wang, there was only so much he could do with the technology he discovered, and he was only serving his duty as a citizen by contributing it to the government for the good of the society.

Those words impressed the top leaders of the Ministry, making them more fascinated by him.

And because of the research data he submitted, the Ministry wished to recruit him.

Even as he reached the semi-ripe age of forty-five, his discoveries invariably made him a genius and everyone was confident that he still has more cards hidden up his sleeves.

But when he heard of the invitation extended by the Minister, Qi Wang declined the offer.

Joining the Ministry was something many dreamt of, strived to do, and agonized to do, and yet failed in doing. But why would Qi Wang refuse such an offer?!

The top brass did not want to force things, as much as they wished to understand his reasons. Hence, they spoke to Yang Qingming, knowing his relationship with Qi Wang and hoped that he could unravel the mystery of his refusal.

He just said that serving the country is a duty of all citizens? But why would he refuse when his calling has arrived?

Yang Qingming brought Qi Wang to a table and they sat down. He asked Qi Wang why.

Having heard what happened to Qi Wang, he could not yet understand why Qi Wang, now a destitute man devoid of money and responsibility, would want to decline to join the Ministry.

And if not the Ministry, then where?

Qi Wang shifted his glasses and looked up to regard his former mentor. Ruminatively he said, “As far as I’m concerned, working here does not guarantee large pay. But that is exactly what I need now: a huge sum of money in a short time.”

“But why? Why do you need a huge sum of money for?” asked Yang Qingming, puzzled and surprised.

Joining the Ministry as an R&D staffer might not have a lucrative pay, but as employee of the Ministry, he would enjoy many perks in addition to enjoying prestige and position far greater than many other professions could offer. What on earth is Qi Wang thinking about?

“I want to build a company. One which will be greater and stronger than the Qi Group,” said Qi Wang.

Yang Qingming did not know what to say.

A company?! A business?! He left school at twenty-five to run a business and now, at forty-five, he wants another business?! Does he really want to be the President of a business so badly?!


Author’s Notes:

Yang Qingming: “Do you really have to be a President of a business so badly?”

Qi Wang: “Yes, I do.”

Thank you all for your support! I’d be sure to keep on going!

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----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

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